4 Insights You May Have Missed from the 2018 Digital Transformation Study

The buzz around “digital transformation” can make it difficult to cut through the noise. In the same search, you may discover wide-ranging recommendations from respected sources that point in opposite directions. Whose advice do you follow?

We wanted to hear directly from CIOs on how they are solving the most common problems arising from their digital journeys, so we sponsored an in-depth market study.

From the Front Line: CIOs’ Perspectives on Digital Transformations (Bennett-Frank Associates, 2018) was powered by interviews with over 50 CIOs from a broad range of industries and company sizes regarding the current state of their digital transformations.

Here are the insights that stood out the most to us:

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Don't wag the dog, lead with strategy

Don’t Wag the Dog: Digital Transformation Starts with Company Strategy

Today, headlines about digital transformation dominate blogs and journals. IT leaders feel that they should have already started their organization’s transition into the digital age. But the amount of buzz around this trend shouldn’t force you into a hasty decision.

For years you’ve been told to avoid technology for technology’s sake – yet the same trap is catching CIOs pushing for digital transformation because everyone else is doing it. Like any IT initiative, digital transformation only makes sense if it supports your organization’s overall strategy.

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Who Cares About Your IT Initiative?

Who Cares About Your IT Initiative?

Sure, we all want our IT initiatives to succeed. We regularly evaluate our projects, in-flight or upon completion, looking for tangible lessons to learn. We apply these strategic and tactical takeaways in hopes of increasing the chances of success for each subsequent initiative. We seek approaches that work for different industries, organizations, teams, and technologies.

But looking back at the many IT projects I’ve been a part of in my career, I can’t help but notice a common theme associated with success: people who genuinely care tend to find a way to get it done.

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IT mission - the road to the future

4 Pitfalls to Avoid When Defining IT’s Mission in the Digital Age

Agreeing on a mission statement is a healthy, worthwhile exercise for any organization or department. IT is no exception. The IT mission is a clear expression of the department’s self-perception and shared purpose.

As we forge ahead in the digital age, IT departments are starting to make up the majority of most organizations’ investment, operations, and risk. Thus, the term “IT is the business” has taken hold. Therefore, the further along your organization overall is on its digital journey, the more the IT mission should resemble the overall organization’s mission. In fact, taken to its logical extreme, the best practice would be to repeat the organization’s mission as IT’s mission.

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A Software Developer Makes a Great Executive Advisor

A Software Developer Makes a Great Executive Advisor

When executives don’t see the outcomes they expect from a technology, they often bring in external help to assess the situation and propose a get-well plan. We have all been a part of those meetings where someone says: Enough is enough! We keep discussing the same issues over and over, but the answer is not in this room. Let’s ask someone outside of this room for an independent opinion.

Often, it’s a management consultant who gets the call for help. But, for most IT issues, executives also need to talk to software developers for their advice and perspective.

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Every Business Is Becoming Digital. Are You Keeping Pace?

Author and professor Venkat Venkatraman recently spoke to the SIM Boston chapter about how IT leaders within established companies can recognize and respond to digital shifts.

The observations and advice that Venkatraman offers in his book The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology are practical and prophetic at the same time. He covers many valuable concepts including the digitization of business models (products, services, and processes), the future of digital (based on the trajectory of bandwidth, connectivity, and computational power), and how to create and capture value (through scale, scope, and speed).

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Improving Delivery Through Empowerment: 4 Steps to Empower an Agile Team

Your company is moving to Agile from waterfall, and you want to ensure a smooth transformation that keeps projects healthy. As a scrum master working to transform a traditional waterfall SDLC process into an Agile one, I have learned a few pointers when navigating this transformation. An important concept to keep in mind during this transformation is empowerment.

One of Agile’s core tenets is the value of “individuals and interactions” over “processes and tools”. The idea is to foster a high-velocity decision making process, which hinges on open and honest communication in a co-located environment. However, implementing this change can be very difficult for team members who have previously worked on waterfall projects. You may find employees reluctant to volunteer for work, or hesitant to take on new challenges. Why is this so?

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IT Professionals Should Watch Their Language

When someone’s job description is “firefighter,” you know exactly how they can help you. If your house is on fire, they will put it out. We don’t call a firefighter a “long hose operator.” That may be technically accurate, but incomplete and unclear to those of us outside the fire station.

Naming conventions based on consumption make so much more sense than those based on operational or technical specs.

IT professionals want to be recognized for creating business value. Yet too often they are referred to as people who merely provide technology. It’s frustrating. To understand the disconnect, consider how IT professionals talk about themselves and their projects. Common IT titles include software development lead, SAP project manager, or something else referencing their specialty. A lot of project names I see include “cloud migration,” “system integration,” or “upgrade.” If you verbalize what you do through technology, you will be perceived as a technology-centered person.

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